Friday, 4 September 2015

Not just a pic

The beautiful young boy, and do not forget his sister and mother who also drowned actually has a name:

This fine soldier whose heart must break
He too is  a father!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bumping into a scholar

As I was crossing the road in North Adelaide this afternoon, I saw  Doktor Erich Renner.   He is 90+. I said  "good afternoon Dr Renner". He was, as usual, totally distracted....not knowing for a moment who I was. But he waved and continued on his  way.

He is one of THE great Australian scholars of the Hebrew Scriptures. Even though I now guess he is 93+!   I was a bit shocked that he is still with us!

_....I met him on the first SA Council of Christians and the 80s  and particularly remember sitting in an excruciating meeting when a 20 + American Rabbi lectured this great Scholar about the book of Ezra.
I was thinking...Renner knows more about the exegesis of the Scriptures than you will ever know
Renner, ever the gentleman,(even today as he crossed the road he was wearing jacket and tie), sat quietly and waited to make his measured, polite and respectful response.

The young American rabbi, who had never for a moment considered  that a Lutheran may actually know more about the Scriptures than he did....despite a 50 year age difference, continued to lecture us unaware that he knew less than most of us sitting around the table. . I was just embarrassed!

It is of course difficult for Christians in Christian-Jewish dialogue to advocate for our scholarship and insight into the Hebrew Scriptures.  And particularly difficult if you happen to be of German background....despite the fact that the good doctor was born in or around Dimboola in the Wimmera.
The best Jewish scholars, of course, fully understand that Christians take the Hebrew Scriptures seriously...and indeed have been responsible for most of the serious scholarship of the last century.

Erich, today,  waved...and continued on his way

Marriage equality

You can contact the Senate about their committee on Marriage Equality

I have recently written to them

I am an Anglican priest of a city parish in Adelaide and write to support the cause of Marriage Equality.

I would make 3 points:

1. The assumption that all church people and their ministers and priests are opposed to the marriage of people who are of the same gender is incorrect. I am quite clear from personal support I have received, that many Anglican priests would be privileged to 
I myself believe that there is no scriptural or theological impediment to the same.  
"Church rules" are another matter; I am sad to say that it will take my particular denomination an interminable time to work through this issue ( as it did through the issue of ordination of women)   

2.I have in my congregation a number of gay people. At times I wonder why people bother with the Church; which is  often uncaring and unsupportive. I am proud to say that we are not!  One couple has been in a stable relationship for over 40 years, they are well-accepted, normal and fine men. In fact their support of their wider family is exemplary.

3.I believe that the call for a Constitutional Referendum is a delaying tactic.  
Even the plebiscite would not seem to be much better, since it is neither binding nor indicative of intention.

This issue should not be derided because it is one of "equal rights". Surely all Australians should have equal rights.

Respectfully and sincerely yours

Parish Priest
St Mary Magdalene's Church
26 Moore Street
SA 5000

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Holding the Man

There is an adequate review of the soon-to-be-released film (of the biog) Holding the Man here on Eureka Street

The film is about to be released.
I must admit that I found Tim Conigrave's slim volume deeply moving when I read it many years ago.

I do make the additional comment on ES's page

"Feel a little bit sorry about the crassness of some of the comments above eg. "Please advise: How did John get AIDS in the first place? Is the movie frank about this? ....." 

What is the suggestion here?  That Caleo and Conigrave's story should not be told because they both died! [Please note it is inaccurate to say that they "died from AIDS" What's with the prurience about whether or not they had relationships 'on the side'? If that's a test then probably 75%++ of the population of Australia stands condemned]
 The book, I would suggest , is already an Australian Classic. 

The first time I read it I was in tears by the end. My impression is that the play had the same effect on people, and that the movie is likely to take the world by storm. 
Not because it is about confronting homophobia, which it is; 
nor because it is about promoting marriage equality (which it says nothing about). 
But because it is about allowing people to have the freedom to love, and to recognise that love and tragedy will go side by side. Surely that's a profoundly Christian message. Replying & writing as a Christian! Stephen ....etc.etc

Monday, 17 August 2015

Let's move on..... but doesn't look like we will

I just wrote to Warren Entsch about  marriage equality

Dear Warren

I am an Anglican priest and stand in awe of your commitment to promote the cause of marriage equality even against the strident views of the Prime Minister, which I would suggest are more in touch with conservative Roman Catholicism than the view of the people. 
I would, and do, regard myself as a conservative and orthodox  Christian; this does not preclude my agreeing with you about the justice of this issue.

And this email is really to let you know (as I am sure you already do) that not all Christians think Marriage Equality is wrong. 
I am sure that this will eventually pass into law. The Church, sadly in my opinion, will struggle with this for some what longer. I would happily marry a same-sex couple tomorrow! (even today!) but the laws of our Church are slow to catch up.
In my congregation ( a city congregation in Adelaide) there are a number of people who are same-sex attracted. One couple, much loved by us all, has been in a stable relationship for over 40 years.

My impression is that most middle of the road Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, & Uniting Church people  and many others  even Baptists and Churches of Christ folk…..long to love and allow love to prevail.

The ‘conservatives’ in all traditions will try to tell us otherwise.

Frankly the secular community couldn’t care less about the irrelevancies of the various religious bodies' internal machinations; 

So stick in there!


Stephen Clark

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The different rule of law

I find it difficult to believe that our leaders might suggest that if they "pay back" their fraudulent claims then that is OK.
This began with the Helicopter doesn't matter that it was wrong as long as I paid back the money....equally well Opposition  MPs make the same claim....if  I am caught out  but I then pay it pay it back then that fixes it  up . To use Rhyming Slang...this is WOOL KNIT...
If a burglar ...before a court, said 'I will give the stolen goods back'...or 'I will repay those who had their goods stolen'   I am not convinced that  "paying back"actually deals with fraud

Carrots extraordinary

Did think I needed to do something with the carrots that needed to do more than just go black.

So I have peeled them!
Cut them into long segments
and am now marinating them in

brown sugar,
balsamic vinegar
& liquid (home made ) yoghourt [you could use butter or oil]

Am planning to roast the carrots for dinner....and promise to post an actual photo of what they look like!!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

#racism My theory

My theory is that Australians have always struggled with multiculturalism.
This is hilarious if it were not so serious!.

Let me however trace (inadequately)  my 40+ year experience of living in Australia
We came to live in Australia in 1967. It was MUCH more ethnically diverse than rural NW England.
There had been lots of Italians, Spaniards and Yugoslavs (as they were wrongly termed  then....see flags attached of kingdom break up)
In my High School class there were Anglo-Australians, Maltese, French & Spaniards.
In later years I went out with an Italian, my sister with a Croatian, and we ended up marrying into an Italian family; a Polish, Welsh Family; an early Yorkshire and Australian family; we have not yet married into an indigenous family, nor an African family, or an Asian family.
My daughters mock me (surprise surprise) " "Dad wants us to to marry an indigenous or Asian person". I would be more than happy
I suspect that this is the experience of most 'Australian' families.
My dearest (Welsh) friend was married to a Latvian Gentleman.  I use the term 'gentle' deliberately. He was highly intelligent. He was gentle and respectful.
Anton, I salute you!   As his extraordinary wife died, her faith; his partnership  was outstanding.

I have gone on.

My point is.......all our lives were transformed...when we encountered people who were outside our comfort zone. But
I would suggest
truly enriched

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Journeys of life- part the second

In 1967 we set sail for Australia. I was 14. I think none of us, parents included, had any idea of what was really ahead of us.
Nevertheless we had an exotic trip aboard the SS Orsova of the P&O line. Visiting Gibraltar, then Port Said......just before the Suez Canal was closed we passed through, , bypassing Aden (where an 'incident' had occurred...a soldier I think having been shot.... ) we went to Djibouti on the horn of Africa.  I remember being quite frightened as night fell and we were far away, and quite aware, for the first time ever, that we were white people on a black continent.
We went on to the exciting city of Bombay/Mumbai....we had never seen anything like it. Encapsulating as it does both the tensions of India and the still present tensions of the Raj with its great gateway to India.
The tension that India is both British and Indian.
In the midst of all this is poverty and porn....women in cages.....I had no conception of what this meant.
From there to Penang and the Temple of a thousand Buddhas   and the Snake Temple (here). The stupid taxi driver gave my brother R a baby snake. At least we had the sense to realise that there was no way we would be bringing live reptiles into Australia.
A couple of day later we sailed into the more benign Singapore. A pleasant drive around and my father had clever photos taken of my mother sitting in his hand....I will try to find these and post them later.
Then we landed in Fremantle, sailed on to Adelaide (the Bight was rough!) and then we drove to Whyalla ......what a shock!

Journeys of life....part the first

There was a curious radio program today which suggested that young people should not travel overseas.
I think the thesis was that basically you are "too young to appreciate the experience" and, more than that, you might be ruined and never learn to settle down.
I will get to that later on (part the fourth perhaps)
But as a boy it was wonderful to grow up in West Cumberland  ( the Western Lake District) we used to go to the beach at St Bees (where my Dad had lived as a boy  and my Great Uncle and Aunt still lived ...he had been both the bank manager and a lighthouse operator....!) and then we stayed at Braystones...just a bit further down the coast. Coastally beautiful!
How we swam I don't know as it was the Irish Sea, by Australian standards it was probably colder than even the south of Tasmania.!   As I reflect, I realise that at least one of our holiday 'houses' probably did not have electricity nor running water (we used to go to the Well to fill buckets!). But I think we got up at 6 or 7 spent the day at the beach, picked mushrooms, built sandcastles, swam...caught crabs, picked cuvvins...( a sea snail which you picked and soaked and cooked...Yum! [let us not however begin to think about the discharge from the Windscales Nuclear Reactor...which meant that Sellafield was discharging waste water which may or may not have been tainted by nuclear waste....might explain why I have three brains!]...but we enjoyed them...Cumbrian escargots)
The main picture above is of the wonderful Campsite that the Scouts developed at Ennerdale. Many of my holidays as a teenage boy were as a member of that organisation. I am really happy that I had the opportunity to be both a Cub and a Scout.
The formal campsite, but also rough camping in fields and on mountainsides was very enjoyable. And is etched very deep in my memory.
For all these childhood holidays I am really grateful.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Lots of stuff going on

My head is buzzing at the moment. Quite a lot of big issues.
The Greek Economy, Marriage Equality, Terrorism....and so it goes on
I am thankful that life does not get smaller.

As we were leaving church on Sunday my dear and faithful parishioner said "What do you think about Gay Marriage?"
I suggested to her that  the 2 mins for such conversations was not going to allow me to discuss this with her on the doorstep of the church.

I also had a bit of a feeling that I was being corralled  a trendy lefty....( a descriptor I steadfastly deny) to say stuff I would almost surely entirely regret.

First of all let me say that I eschew being driven into a corner where what is not being sought is freedom of expression but the capacity to put my foot into my mouth

So surprisingly I feel a bit sorry, for Barnaby who  has been told that he will not be allowed to be on Q&A tonight. Bully boys at Government Head Office ( it goes right to the top) will be stopping national senior ministers will be allowed to be on the national broadcasters flagship program Q & A...and Barnaby is the first casualty.
Now, I am no Barnaby fan.....but at least he is usually unafraid to confront his critics.

Democracy is threatened when power says "You are not allowed to speak!"

We all wait with baited breath to see what Malcolm will do !  He does appear to buckle
And we had all hoped he was better than that!
Let's wait for next week

Monday, 29 June 2015

Would that I were like her!!!!!

Katharine Jefferts-Schori will finish her term as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church  USA in a few weeks
She is adored by many (me included).  Hated by (probably) many more!
I think, when history tells its story, she will be seen as one of the great Anglican Bishops, not only of the 21st Century but of the whole Anglican era!
Here is a great reflection by Diana Butler Bass on her period of office.
I compare many of my reflections on Bishop Katharine  to the career of the first female Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  
We look back and we see that we got very tangled up  and found that we were dealing not only with the fact that this was a stunningly bright star on the horizon, but that SHE was also a woman!
The debates in the Church and in politics are so couched in masculine tradition that we are and were deeply confronted by soeone who led us in a different way.  
And, not only that, but was able to lead us with: energy, intelligence, justice, spirituality and joy!
 She was, I believe, treated appallingly  by the English Church when attending Southwark Cathedral, the Lambeth Mafia prevented her from wearing a mitre.
She may have been an Anglican Primate, but she was not allowed to be recognised as such! (This article may give you a sense of just HOW RIDICULOUS  this all is)
She has had to deal with churches which have thrown fits of pique and decided they would leave, even though they then have been told they couldn't "take the ball with them"....she has remained steadfast

Preached well and intelligently. (She is after all is not just a theologian but a scientific doctor too!)  But of course this didn't really could suggest that some gender bias was slipping in.

Anyway the Church has continued the "thorn in the side" tradition
They have elected a black guy to succeed her!.
All I can say is Hallelujah!

Bishop Michael Curry says " This the church in which I was baptised (and more importantly)  this is the Church where I learned about Jesus....Keep the faith!"

Friday, 12 June 2015

A great joy

My dear parishioner J. did tell me after last Sunday's sermon that she didn't agree with me!!!
My goodness someone actually listened!
And she and the lovely H still continue to come week by week and sit in the front pew!

#marriageequality THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS

A letter appeared through Sydney's (Roman) Catholic Diocese this week
(Offensive letter see here)
I take some exception to its purporting ( or seeking to purport) to speak on behalf of all religious people about marriage equality.

Please note it uses the pejorative terminology "same-sex marriage" ( see a previous blog) rather than the eirenic  term 'marriage equality'

This letter should at least begin " Dear Mr Abbot: As leaders IN (sic) some religious groups...." 
This is a partisan, incomplete and non-representative group of individual religious leaders! (It could not be otherwise!)
To tackle the presumption in my particular denomination for example:
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney,  is NOT the "leader" of Australian Anglicans.  It is quite clear that though he may speak for a number, particularly Conservative Evangelicals, he does not ( and cannot presume to) speak for all / most Anglicans. 
He is NOT the Primate. And Evangelical Anglicanism does not typify the views of many, if not most Australian Anglicans in the 21st Century
I am interested to note that a number of mainstream Christian Churches  have obviously chosen to not identify with this . Equally well, moderate Jewish and Islamic traditions are not represented.  The Buddhist and Hindu traditions are not there. Where are the indigenous voices, and the Maori and South Pacific traditions
It will be the case (unfortunately) that we will continue to struggle with this in Churches, long after the rest of the world has got over it!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Queen's Birthday

Personally I don't have any animosity towards Mrs Elizabeth Mountbatten (aka The Queen).  She once smiled at me! 
But I don't think she should be our Head of State. And no matter what the Royalists tell you she is still our Head of State. 
The Governor General is the Viceroy.....[I wonder what the feminine is (and that IS an issue)  perhaps former GG Quentin Brice was a Vicereine!]
The Governor General is NOT the Head of State.

In a country like Australia that just seems ridiculous. 
For 'we are young and free' . And we should be free of the shackles of monarchy. Well at least that's what I think!
I have no desire to assassinate the monarch (indeed though my family is associated with the Kościuszko Uprising there is no desire to stake any claim)

I just hope we all just have a nice day off.  Cabaret Festival,  Lunchtime concert at St Mary Magdalene's, fun with family etc. etc etc

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Misleading, subtle, or downright confusing language

There is absolutely NO DOUBT that the marriage equality discussion is duplicitous.
You might note that I, and others,  always strive to us the expression
rather than
Gay Marriage
or Same Sex Marriage.
There is quite a lot of philosophical differences that are contained in these terminologies
It might well be  added that those who oppose marriage equality, consistently and deliberately use the terminology Gay Marriage or slightly less controversially Same Sex Marriage .  Make no mistake, this is deliberate.
There is an insidious side to this, because what it is doing is appealing to homophobia.
No one, presumably objects to "equality" but people do object to Gay don't they?
Pay attention to who uses what terminology!

I was likewise aware that the so called  Islamic State...ISIS, was using the word "State" to give itself an authenticity that clearly it lacks.....but deeply desires.
It is not a State, by any reckoning of the International law. But it took the world a while to wake up that it should stop calling it "Islamic State"
The ever-heavy-handed PM of Australia insisted on referring to it as "A Death Cult". I am inclined to think that by so doing he gave it an authenticity that we could well have done without. He seems to have stopped doing it!
(Might I say I have "linked" A Abbott, above, in a way that also demonstrates how words are not neutral! Perhaps rather to make the point)
Most people don't get the import of Semiotics....the use of pictures, words and signs.  The average sociologist would suggest  it is a damn sight more important than we imagine. We believe what we read, see, and hear....sometimes in a most irrational way

Don't ask, don't tell

Marriage Equality is obviously a vibrant issue in Australia today :

I added this comment to a website today

I am a priest of the Anglican Church. I have  numbers of gay people in my congregation (St Mary Magdalene's, Adelaide)One much highly regarded couple has been in a committed relationship for 40 years (we have just celebrated the anniversary)  Their extended family is highly supportive, and they themselves are at the forefront of promoting family values in their own familiesI am aware that the Anglican Church does not officially endorse marriage equality, nor do we ordain gay people...[THIS IS ALL BESIDE THE POINT BUT:the  latter fact means for the last 100 years we have adopted the ethically dishonest policy of "Don't ask, don't tell!"My impression is that if we had not ordained people who are clearly homosexual ( some of whom married to normalise the perception of their lives) then about 50% of us would not have been ordained.I often suggest that when I was a seminarian my estimation is that more than half the students were homosexual. Many, if not most, have moved on to be excellent pastors.....the Church has chosen to play to the game!]
I do want to assert that many, if not most of the clergy of our Church, apart from the Sydney Evangelical Puritan heartland, are open to Gay couples....would be happy to marry them...and/or certainly be prepared to solemnly bless their relationships. We just need to stop being so lily-livered

You might like to add your own comment

Friday, 29 May 2015

Marriage Equality---

This is a reblog of a post from September 2014

I had a very thoughtful and charitable letter from A who "respectfully disagreed" with my views about same-sex marriage.
I think it is now better to call it "equal marriage"
I wrote in reply
Thanks for your response to my blog
I have made a number of posts over the years …you may not have tracked them all down
On my blog a link might be:

I have a high view of marriage, [ this may surprise you] and part of my discussion about equal marriage opportunity is about encouraging commitment, morality and in particular an environment in which children may be nurtured  with the assurance of love and security. This latter principle is one that is explicitly stated in the Anglican marriage services.
It does seem to me that the gender of the parents is secondary to the parents’ commitment to love each other. This is the primary environment out of which children will know that they are loved. And in that love to allow the children to know that they are loved.
We are all well aware that many homosexual people live immoral lives…..I want them to live committed, decent lives.
I could also re-write that statement :  
We are all well aware that many heterosexual people live immoral lives…..I want them to live committed, decent lives.
I have experienced a couple of extraordinary things in the last year. A homosexual couple (male) who have embraced twins into their lives. They seemed to think it was going to be a breeze, and it wasn't…my observation is that it has transformed their relationship. They are deeper people, more loving, more capable of embracing carefully the lives of the fragile.
Most gay people do not “choose to be gay”…they are born that way.
Did God want them to live a life doomed to failure? With all due respect, I don’t think God is like that. God does not make life particularly hard for 10%…!
It is not as if we have a God who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses! (Heb 4:15)

I do not think homosexuality is a weakness, any more than heterosexuality is. We struggle with both! We are after all made in God's image. Male and female God created us, it too presumptuous to say "gay and straight" God created us!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Marriage Equality

Like all issues of substance and social change this will not go away.
What is happening at the moment is political brinkmanship and various other sorts of posturing.
I actually agree with Mr Pyne who said this morning that the issue of marriage equality would better proceed by political consensus. That of course, also, is a ploy.
Our nation's referendum history, for example, suggests that we are loath to change. Inertia! A body will  remain at rest unless acted upon to do otherwise
[Today is the anniversary of the passage of the 1967 referendum to recognise the rights of Aboriginal people. One of the few to have passed]

Or maybe it is that we are happy to change, but don't like formalising it!

Even if the Shorten/Plibersek Bill gets up ( and "smirking Tony" seems to have the nouse to recognise the above-mentioned 'inertia principle' may well work in favour of his apparent opposition) it will not ease MY problem.
The discussion in our Church has been studiously  (or is that 'stupidly') avoided.
Hijacked, I would suggest, by fundamentalist evangelicals  who in my opinion do not represent mainstream Anglicanism.   I would go further and suggest that they do not represent the compassion and humanity of the God who became human and dwelt among us....even to the point of death

None of this will go away!
Just as the refugee crisis will not go away!
The scandal of the rich continuing to grow rich at the expense of the poor!
The failure to see the marginalised!
....this will not go away while the politicians posturise
and the church men and women
mutter into their beads (as I do)

and continue to say a prayer "We do not presume...."

while we presume so much!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

An obsession

I have never for a moment doubted that I lie within the Apostolic Succession  though I don't imagine anyone else could care less.
Apostolic Successsion! [ that is: the idea that Jesus chose disciples who chose disciples, who in turn chose disciples who chose the next generation of  disciples  ( what's called in Maths a Geometric Progression!)....and so on for 2000 years!]

It is a way of keeping in touch with the idea that what we are supposed to be on about is not our business but the business of Jesus, as Jesus handed it down.

Some have interpreted this very mechanically;
in particular Jesus chose his apostles who chose other people who chose others and they chose others..........and so on.

I don't even begin to suggest that Jesus had this idea in mind!

This "choice" is signified by the laying on of hands  by  a person who has (in their turn) had hands laid upon them,  who before that had hands laid upon them..... (A Bishop)

It is not hard to imagine that all this has got out of our  imagining.
There are people who can list their succession, like a complex family tree, back to the Apostle Peter. And you can find certain sites where these are listed  with incredible detail ; detail that we must understand is more wishful than truthful!  
[But there is ultimately  no credible documentary evidence for the Bishop Martyrius (457 CE) and the subsequent transition to Peter II (464 CE).... and many more of the lines 

There is every now and then an attempt to correct the "succession" by ensuring that present at a Bishop's consecration is someone who is clearly in "the line of succession". In particular, Anglican/Episcopalian Churches have linked up with Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht who have 'regularised' Anglican Orders. There is in my mind no real need to do this.....the objections of the Roman Church as stated in the rather shallow Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae...that Anglican Orders were "Absolutely Null and Utterly Void!" have been seriously critiqued  by prominent Romans ( eg Cardinal Basil Hume )
And the great Scholar JJ Hughes argued that it was essentially a good thing for the Roman Church to formally invalidate Anglican Orders; as it exposed the paucity of scholarship  and process, and indeed the whole idea of Apostolic Succession as a mechanistic transition of God's grace.

While there is some  sense in the ideas, in the end God is not going to be confined by the sort of legalism that mechanistic transmission conveys.

And, as I said in line 2... I don't imagine anyone else could care less. Certainly not God!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Faithful priests

Chris Grey was a very significant priest and one of my colleagues has reminded us about him  
I have a fund of stories ...but now is not the time...
Chris was an extraordinary priest. He gave away the idea of 'advancement'; more concerned that the Church should do a good job. 
He was a 'blunt instrument' ( that is, he called an incompetent Archdeacon....a bloody fool!) 
I used to ring him up in winter and he would be 'in the car'....the warmest place in their living arrangements. 
He could be difficult. (sometimes just didn't hear what people were saying). 
But he loved the Lord, and the Lord's people and wanted the Church to succeed. 
A graduate of St Barnabas, he was proud of the training he had received, and wanted theological education to do well!
As for most clergy, he succeeded with the support of Molly his wife. Even in the Church, (or maybe particularly in the Church) we overlook how important husbands and wives have been

Even as you wave goodbye

On a mountain somewhere,
lifted up for all to see
you went
Just when we were beginning to have fun.
So, as if to comfort me,
a little while
you promised to be with me
not just now but always.

How could I have believed you
(fool that I am)
“I’ll be with you always”
as you waved goodbye.

Now on that same mountain
years later,
and then a little while,
why do I stand looking up
wishing, waiting, wanting
your return.

My soul longs for you.
And as I stand there gazing
I look sideways,
left and right,
and backwards
and see you standing here with me.

While that for which I am least grateful
tries to tell me
you deserted me
That for which I am most grateful
reminds me
that you enlivened me
you thrilled me
summoned me.

Not to float away
but to remember
that with you
a promise is a promise

even as you wave goodbye.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A great Bishop

The bishop belongs to all.
Let no one be scandalized if I frequent
Those who are considered unworthy
Or sinful. Who is not a sinner?
Let no one be alarmed if I am seen
With compromised and dangerous people,
On the left or the right.
Let no one bind me to a group.
My door, my heart, must be open
To everyone, absolutely everyone.
The Most Reverend Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara
former Archbishop  of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

This is taken from the installation of Bp Katherine Jefferts-Schori many years ago as the American Presiding Bishop

She has in my mind been a great leader during difficult times. Her time is coming to an end.
There is much to be thankful for about her leadership.....
...refusing to be bullied
...remaining steadfast in the faith
...and apart from all that   seeming to command a sense of humour

Faith is actually a victory

I John 5:1-4...a cryptic but profound passage. 

Faith might mean 
that I stop trying to control
other people, circumstances
those who I want to love.

Faith might mean 
that I open myself to a new way of living

Faith might mean 
that I submit to the universe
it is, after all, God’s universe!

Faith might mean
that ‘might’ might mean
that I can trust God

surely I know that by now

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Pour a libation

It is not so often that priests in Adelaide publish books, but a slim volume of poems Pour a Libation by Dawn Colsey has just recently been released.

I came by mine a couple of days ago, and each day find there is yet another good poem! No indeed every day I have found a great poem!

My impression is that it is a fine and perceptive collection of poems by one who is a priest, a mother and a grandmother (Good Mother’s day present!). A careful observation of life

I hope it doesn’t breach copyright to share one with you on this True Vine Sunday

I drink Sevenhill wine

soft merlot, velvet red
It takes me to the beloved place-
prayer within the walls,
the work of vines outside-
wine-making in slow time-
patience, stability infused into fruit-
bliss made liquid
to ease the heart

For about $20 I note the book’s available from Book Depository, 

and I got mine from Dawn herself, and there is a Kindle version available on Amazon
And the Publisher Ginninderra Press

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Who should own my poems

Never quite sure whether my 'poems' are prayers or sermons
or  just the yearning  of my heart

Any way this week

We want considerably less
for ourselves
than God wants for us.
We want 

God wants us to have
we are some what afraid
of Life.

God wants more for us 
than we are brave enough
to want for ourselves.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Death Penalty

A day of sadness and shame for the Asian-Oceanian region

There is surely no excuse for a a modern state: Asian,  European , African, American....and certainly not support the death penalty

On a day when we are all concerned about the heaving casualties of great human tragedy in Nepal....our hearts are opened to  "a country like this......a  city like this" .
Our common humanity should remind us that we are citizens of a Common World. where  it is convenient to suggest we are privileged to live in security.

We will forget most likely about Sukumaran and Chan, executed this morning in Indonesia,......the stupid boys who became men in prison and then were slaughtered.

While there is some evidence to suggest that the 'ordinary' Australian community still has a hefty proportion of people who think it's OK to execute people.....if nothing else good has come out of this latest injustice in Indonesia it is that Australian political will appears to have been galvanised.
 against the death penalty. Equally well there is a serious issue about the way popular media has or has not aggravated this situation

One moderate commentator said this morning when the argument that "they had been rehabilitated" was again being put forward....'Well they were not there to be rehabilitated but to be......." and the conversation sort of tailored off.
I presume he was going to say punished!
Having been to Gaol in the last couple of weeks (here) I tried to talk about the process of reconciliation that the modern gaol is supposed to be on about. Mobilong Gaol seems to be doing pretty well in rehabilitating others.

Gaol is not just about punishment....though that is legitimate....we also should be about rehabilitation.

Both Chan and Sukumaran  appear to have been seriously and wonderfully rehabilitated...almost against all odds... there seems little reason to think that this is anything but genuine.

There are bigger questions too:  China continues to be the biggest executor . Dare we confront this powerful trading partner
The US, our most powerful ally,  is the most shameful and strident country participating in executions.  Where is our criticism of them?

There is much more to be said about this.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Good doctors!

I am privileged to know a number of good doctors.
I have at least 3 practising Doctors in the congregation, two retired of whom is a world recognised Neuro Surgeon. My Best Man is a nationally acknowledged specialist in Paediatrics, particularly the paediatrics of disability & rehabilitation (he thought it a great privilege to meet the formerly mentioned Neuro Sugeon)

Any way this morning I went to get a B12 injection at a modern Mid Western practice and I was very impressed. The newish Registrar system  put me in contact with Dr A.
I was indeed very impressed.
..if what’s been detected is remedied by the same then I could be possibly dangerous!  

However the fine Registrar well on her way, I suspect, to being a a great GP also thought I should have a flu injection as well. Feel OK so far! 

Far cry from my success in getting every child in the clinic to cry at the mere thought of a polio injection!  (I was 3 or 4)  Thank God I was unsuccessful

Very good Doctor today!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Interesting times

This is sometimes said to be both a Chinese curse or a blessing.. may you live in Interesting Times.. personally I am inclined to think it is better to live in interesting times.
It has been an interesting week.
A funeral of a friend who died quite quickly.
I was called to bless a dog that was going to be put down.
Australia is besotted by the centenary of ANZAC at Gallipoli.
The Dr told me my "blood" was OK but I have a B12 deficiency (reading the Wiki entry it seems to describe me to a T)
I have been reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North  a very good book to read in this ANZAC week  (read Thom Keneally's review here)
I attended one of the many Parish Nomination Committee meetings [I have become  a "professional Diocesan nominator"...and the level of vacancy makes it rather taxing... I take this role very seriously, and I am glad that His Grace seem to do so also] The church is changing, morphing, declining, growing....those things may seem contradictory...but church is rather like that

Interesting times!
In the meantime...I live with an interesting person (my daughter!....lest you forget!) , I married my niece. I visited a jail. And greatest of joys...I went to fix my daughter's shower....and was able to hold the most precious member of our family in my arms. I like that better than anything else (even better than the sound of my own voice!)

Interesting times! Interesting times?
A curse, but most likely,
a blessing

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Prison versus gaol

It was a privilege last night to go to Mobilong "Correctional Facility"/ "Prison"/"Gaol or Jail".

It was another graduation service (the second of the week for me...the first being a University Graduation) but on this occasion for a group of about 20 prisoners in one of the State's prisons.
This is run by Kairos Prison Ministry. An ecumenical endeavour to prisoners, a short course, and weekly contact with those in jails. (we are still having a debate about jail  or gaol) 

The guys who did the course spoke about "what they had learnt" and "how they had changed". In some senses fairly trite questions...and the guys recognise this...but they roll with it.

Some of my observations:
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them all
  • We had a good conversation in the car on the way home about the way language is used. We had all noted that the,  otherwise, very excellent speaker from the Dept. of Correctional Services used the lingo of her Department.  These were "offenders", and we and they  were told that Kairos was one step towards them getting back on the right track.  This is the language of the Department, I guess, but fairly heavy handed
  • My first impression....and this is not the first time I have been in a gaol... as I looked at the security is that:  if this is 'medium and low security'  then what  is high security?  It all looked awful to me
  • I was struck by the male membership of the Kairos team and supporters. This is not something that you always experience in the life of the church. It is good to see that  good men think this is valuable ministry
  • My friend, Rob, had lured me by the assurance that the guys who would speak would be a  profound experience
  • It was indeed,. Groups spoke...and then there was Open Mic ( as a person who does funerals I think this is a big mistake.) But today.......the groups Matthew, Mark, Luke and John....I wonder where those name came from.... and then (sometimes with a little reluctance) from individuals came very interesting reflections
  • Most spoke about Forgiveness.  The guys spoke about three things:   How they needed to seek forgiveness.  Well yes!  
  • how they needed to forgive...well that's a bit more challenging and complex...they are not only Offenders but are also Victims....some of them were able to even articulate that their families of origin didn't really support and/or love them.    This is bitter stuff. But they needed to forgive... the failures of those who should have done better
  • They spoke mainly about the need to forgive themselves .....pretty deep stuff for guys who we may so often think of as hopeless!
  • Finally,  and this is not everything I thought,  an APY guy played guitar and  about the Cross. he sang (I am told) in the Pitjantjara language (Were I a producer I would be signing him up today!!)
  • I found myself pained, as one who has artistic proclivities, what do you do if you are denied the outlet of your life.   If there is no gyuitar in your room. If you cannot pen the poem that is in your heart (my particular issue)
  • I am thankful to shake the hands of those guys...who had to return to lockup
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them